Meet Dr. Robert+ Grant: Military Chaplain Endorser
Over the course of his life, Dr. Robert+ Grant has had various roles. He’s been a radio talk show host, an academic, a pastor, and a coach. The common theme running through each of these roles is helping people engage with Jesus and live into God’s calling on their life. Dr. Grant+ has been a member of AMiA since 2003 and during that time has served as a rector, regional vicar, director of clergy formation and as AMiA’s military chaplain endorser. He currently serves as the Counselor General for Military Chaplaincy, where he endorses and supports AMiA clergy called to serve in the U.S. Military
We recently sat down with Dr. Grant+ to learn about his role as military Chaplain Endorser, his own spiritual journey, and his calling.
I grew up in Portsmouth, Virginia. My earliest memories were as a member of the Boys Choir and serving as an acolyte at Trinity Episcopal Church.
At the age of 22, I had a profoundly personal encounter with Jesus and the work of the Holy Spirit in my life. It was at that time that I first felt a calling to ministry.
I finished my undergraduate degree in religion at Southern California College. I pursued graduate studies in New Testament and Church History at George Washington University and received a Master’s in Counseling and later a doctorate in Theology.
Before joining the Mission in 2003, I was a church planter and pastor of evangelical charismatic churches. These were all three stream churches that valued the scriptures, the sacred, and the work of the Spirit. When I encountered the Mission in 2002, it was a natural fit with my ministry experience as well as familiar because of my involvement in an Anglican church growing up.
I became actively involved with AMiA while working as Rector of Christ the King Anglican in Colorado Springs. Almost immediately, I was asked to be involved with leadership development. This eventually led to working with our Military Chaplains.
In 2011, Rev. H Miller, who was AMiA’s Rector General at the time, asked me to move to Pawleys Island and to assume responsibility of credentialing, leadership development and coaching. In 2014, I was asked to assume the role of the Endorsing Agent for our Military Chaplains serving in the various branches of our active duty military forces.
As the endorsing agent, I ensure that all Chaplains associated with the Mission are compliant with the Department of Defense (DOD) requirements. Any new Chaplain needs to fulfill certain educational, physical, pastoral and ministerial experience requirements. So when I say that I am endorsing a Chaplain, I am saying that he is fully vetted. My goal as the endorsing agent is to send our very best to the military community. When the DOD says “we are getting a new Chaplain from the Mission,” I want them to know that they are getting first-rate ministers.
Another big part of my job is staying current with policy and regulations that affect our chaplains. There is an annual conference, the National Conference on Ministry to the Armed Forces, which I attend every year. This allows me to interface with the Chief of Chaplains and to get all the latest information that helps our men.
I communicate regularly with our chaplains through email, teleconference and phone calls. I check in on them and their families to see how they are doing. Whenever possible, I make an annual site visit to meet with them, their families, and the commanding officer to whom our chaplain reports.
The whole focus of Leader Breakthru is to help leaders identify their very best contribution and how to move forward with next steps to maximize their gifting and calling.
One of the main tools is a timeline exercise, where you take the time to reflect on the people, places, and encounters, both positive and negative, that have shaped your core values. It can also help people identify areas in their life where they might be “stuck.” Sometimes things in our lives are influencing our decisions in an unhealthy way. By taking the time to process these things, people are able to identify what they want to take forward into the future and what they want to leave behind.
There is also an element of Leader Breakthru that is specific to one’s season of life. I just turned 75. The best is yet to come, but I am living into my leadership roles in a different way. This is an area that can be challenging for senior leaders. Our culture wants us to retire and check out at this stage of life. But mature leaders in their senior years may have a great amount of experience! They still want to make a difference and can have a significant contribution as they navigate the transition from title and position into influence.
So I spend a lot of time helping gifted leaders finish well and encourage younger leaders to start thinking about these matters early in their ministry development. Like in a track event, nobody starts the race without the finish line in view. At age 30, or even earlier, it’s not too premature to start thinking and dreaming about finishing well and leaving a valuable legacy for the next generation of leaders.
As you can probably tell, it’s engaging with people, helping them grow in their relationship with Jesus and live into God’s calling on their life. If I can help someone through coaching and draw things out that are already there, I find that people own it much more. So when I get up in the morning, my question is “Lord, how are we going to do this today?”
My quiet time in the morning is spent around the lectionary readings and morning prayer. Recalibrating to Jesus and the Word of God contained in the scriptures is the best way I can live into each new day. When I get that right, it serves as a compass to keep me on track for the day’s events.
I am also usually working my way through a book that I am studying, reading devotionally, or reading for theological development.
I am thankful to have had numerous mentors and spiritual fathers in my life. Among them is Charles Simpson, who was an outstanding Bible Teacher who has influenced me through his insights into scripture.
Bishop Sandy Greene has had a significant influence in terms of the liturgical, sacramental life and a model of pastoral care in The Mission.
Gordon Fee was my Greek professor in undergrad. I didn’t realize at the time what a gold mine he was.
Bishop Chuck Murphy is someone who I have watched up close and journeyed with in the last six years. I’ve seen him chose the high road time and time again, even at his own expense.
My wife’s father was a pastor and missionary for 50 years. His wisdom has highly influenced my life and ministry.
The moment that comes to mind was a time last year in the early hours of the morning. I had a fresh sense of who I am in Christ. Out of my mouth, around 3 AM in the morning, came the words, “Jesus, you alone are enough.” I experienced resolution that whom I am in Christ is the primary issue. I do not require significance from title, position or role to offer a my best contribution. Being at rest with who I am in Jesus frees me to deliver my best contribution.
This was a poignant moment for me that brought some clarity to important matters I had been facing last year. We don’t realize how much we draw our identity from other things and the way people view what we do. We don’t realize how much that can tug on us and influence us. I’ve been in a transition period over the last three to four years. My role and responsibilities have been significantly changing. I’m used to being out in the field quarterbacking and calling plays. As that’s changed, I’ve been restless and uncomfortable with the times of silence. But Jesus alone is enough. I am learning to be content in who I am in Christ and to be used by Him when He choses.
Our Chaplains have an incredible scope of responsibility. Most of our chaplains are responsible for multiple thousands of people. They minister to Christians, Jews, Muslims, and people at any stage of their spiritual journey. They need to be everybody’s chaplain. It can be overwhelming but they are up for the challenge doing an outstanding job serving our diverse military community.
They need our prayers. AMiA currently has four military chaplains and shortly will have a fifth. They serve in combat zones, on military bases, and one of our men is currently serving as an instructor at Maxwell Airforce Base, training new chaplain officers. Please keep these men in your prayers as they live into the incredible calling on their lives.